It’s a scary old world out there on Facebook. You can go from hero to villain in the matter of a few words and often even the use of a smiley face emoji or two can’t save you.
One minute you are innocently asking your closest 20,000 friends on Facebook what their opinion is of your daughter’s newly pierced ears and the next – you are accused of child abuse.
It’s a tough old place.
So here’s handy guide for navigating the minefield that is Facebook parents groups and the top ten subjects to avoid if you want to keep the peace.
1. Suggesting your child is gifted.
You know how it is… the first post goes something like this:
“My two-year old just build a model Opera House with her Duplo Lego and wrote signs pointing to each theatre with a map. CUTE!!! Do you think she’s gifted? Is this normal? Should I be getting her tested?”
The reactions usually range from sympathetic: “Oh my 18-month-old did that too. Such a great milestone when they begin crafting their own architectural masterpieces. Enjoy.”
To helpful: “Seems very usual I would be rushing off to a doctor to have your child tested for extreme intelligence. They might be able to suggest some Lego she can move on to.”
It then escalates to the let-them-be-kids types: “She’s only two. She has plenty of time to build the Taj Mahal. Let her be a two-year-old for gods sake. This is what is wrong with parents these days?”
Which then inevitably brings out the what-about-my-child types: “My two-year-old is still eating her own feet. Should she be building landmarks out of Duplo? Should I be getting HER tested?”
The OP (original poster) will then be ridiculed and called pushy and she will never dare to enter the foray instead.
2. Asking questions about circumcision.
This is never going to go well. NEVER.
Whatever side of the debate you are on you are going to end up offended. The best bet is just not to ask questions about this highly personal topic in a public forum. No matter your beliefs someone’s will be stronger. Ask your GP instead.
3. Saying you won’t breastfeed your baby.
Be prepared if you are to mention this on social media to be initially flooded with helpful “tips” on why breast is best and “encouraged” to re-think your choices. If you hold forth in your view, good luck. Chances are you will then be denigrated, abused and probably called a “mule for the formula companies”.
Stand firm Mama. You know best.
4. Posting pictures of you and your children co-sleeping.
It’s a novice’s slip up.
“I fell asleep with my baby on top of me. Anyone else done this?” You snap a quick selfie of how you woke up thinking it was sweet.
Whoops. You thought wrong.
Co-sleeping is controversial. Some say for good reason, others say if you do it right you will be okay.
I say: just don’t ask anyone else’s opinion unless you have a very tough backbone.
Ever done one of these? Ten annoying things parents do on Facebook. Post continues after video…
5. Questions about “holding children back” from school.
You log onto Facebook with pure innocence. You post the question without a thought, “Thinking of holding my child back from school next year. It will make her the eldest the year after? Anyone else doing this?”
You sit back and wait for some intelligent, thoughtful discussion. Sorry that’s not going to happen because this one is a minefield.
Those who are planning on sending their kids are generally outraged that you might consider holding yours back. Those in your camp are thoroughly encouraging. Those with older children who already have sent them “early” are the most defensive, many on edge terrified they’ve made the wrong decision.
Once again just be strong and do what suits your kids.
6. Saying your kid only eats peanut butter sandwiches.
This is how it usually starts:
“My son is starting school next year and it is a nut free zone. He only eats peanut butter sandwiches. Do you think this is fair?”
Sometime, just sometimes, it’s a genuinely innocent question from a person who has no knowledge of the true dangers of food allergies. And sometimes, just sometimes they will get a helpful answer educating them.
Most of the time though, they will be told off with an incredibly passionate response about how for some children, peanuts can actually, you know, KILL. So the OP (original poster) should maybe teach her son to eat something else that isn’t actually lethal to other kids.
7. Asking stay-at-home mums what they do all day.
Because you know they must have lot of spare time? Right?
8. Anything to do with smacking.
Once again, this is a question that can ignite the fieriest of debates – discipline. Do you smack? Do you put your children in time out? Do you yell at them? Do you publicly shame them on Facebook?
Whatever method you use, if you ask about it on Facebook, be prepared to be admonished yourself.
9. Anything to do with controlled crying.
Like breast vs. bottle, controlled crying is right there at the top of what is guaranteed to start a Facebook furor.
Dare to do it and you are a “bad mother”. Dare to criticise it and you will called “judgmental”. You just can’t win. It’s best to parent your own way without broadcasting it on social media.
10. Leaving your child in a car while you pay for petrol.
Did you? Did you also post the question on Facebook as to whether it was okay?
Surely you know this is going to start a barrage of comments about the rightness/the wrongness/the legalities and the intricacies of each and every time you dared to dash into the servo while your baby slept in his capsule in the backseat with the windows down.
What argument have you accidentally started on Facebook?